Welcome to my Top 30 prospects for 2010 extravaganza. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and then you’ll tell me after I’m done that I’m an idiot, and that your favorite prospect is ranked too low, while a guy ranked above him is ranked too high. It should be a good time. Before I get started with this year’s list, I wanted to look back at last year’s list and compare it to the lists put out by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Keith Law at ESPN for comparison’s sake, just to see how great/poor my list was. After that, I’ll talk a bit about how I came up with this list, the various challenges, and my expectations for 2010. If you have already purchased the 2010 Phillies Annual, edited by Jason from beerleaguer, then you’ve already had a chance to see my Top 30. I’ll dig in a bit deeper here and cover some things that I wasn’t able to fit into the Annual. So it should be fun. Lets get started.
First lets take a look back at 2009.
* Players who “just missed” or were considered right after the top 11, listed in the order on the site.
I hate tooting my own horn (or ripping on myself) so I’m not going to get into too much detail breaking down my list in comparison to the others, you can do that if you want. I was out in front on some guys (May, De Fratus, Schwimer) and missed on some other guys (Savery, Sampson), but such is life. My goal is to try and figure out why I missed on guys both high and low and use it to better my future lists and rankings.
Closing that chapter, its time to focus on the present. The Phillies system has seen a massive upheaval in the last year, with 7 of our top 10 or 11 prospects departing via two blockbuster trades. These trades brought 3 new prospects into the fold, and we also added what looks to be quite a bargain on the international market. Still, with the big loss of familiar names in the system, it presents lots of challenges in creating a new top 30 list. Nevertheless, someone has to do it (and some already have), so I gave it a shot. When putting together this list, I drew up a list of about 45 guys, and then began to edit it down. Right as I was finishing the list, the Halladay/Lee deals happened, so I had to recalibrate and move some pieces around, as well as research the newly acquired guys. For reference, since it will be asked, I originally had Kyle Drabek ranked #2, Michael Taylor #3 and Travis D’Arnaud #5. So it was obviously a big loss. After the 30 names are revealed here, I’ll talk briefly about a few guys I cut at the end.
As I’ve written about in my SONAR themed pieces, I consider evaluating prospects to be one of the tougher endeavors out there, especially because I’m not a pro scout with access to tons of advanced data and the chances to see all of these guys live. My exposure to them is the few games I get to see, the video that I can find on the internet, scouting reports I can read, discussions with people who know people, and then looking at the numbers and trying to decipher them. If you’re a regular reader here, you know that I align myself much more in the sabermetric camp. I place a great emphasis on secondary skills and tools, and find much more use in those data points than things like RBI’s and Wins. But at the same time, I’m also a big believer in scouting, and I feel that just like sabermetrics, scouting has to be used appropriately in the context of the total evaluation of a player. Some skills are more important than others, some are easier to asses than others, and sometimes even if you think you have a perfectly clear picture of a player, that image is erased/altered in the blink of an eye. Prospect status is so fluid, and can change so rapidly, that sticking to long held beliefs on players can be dangerous. A pitcher who is able to add a new pitch, a batter who is able to add 20 pounds of muscle, things like that can completely change a prospect’s profile overnight. A guy with fringy velocity suddenly shows above average velocity, or a guy who didn’t have a changeup before suddenly finds a new grip that works, and he now has a plus changeup. Things like this happen all the time, and it makes rating these prospects so difficult.
When I look at a player, the first thing I start with is his raw numbers. At the end of the day, you are what your numbers say you are, to a degree. Statistics are simply a record of what happened, not what is going to happen, but using the right statistics can lead to a decent formulation of a prediction about the future. After looking at what a player has done, I like to look at the player’s physical profile and his age. Is he likely done growing? Does he have room to add muscle to his physical frame? With his physical profile, is he likely to lose his speed/athleticism at a younger age? After assessing this, I like to try and find a scouting report on his 5 raw tools that scouts assess. I try to arrange players into three groups; elite tools, average tools, below average tools. The first group is the proverbial toolshed, the guy who has elite athleticism, he runs fast, he’s strong, and you can dream on him morphing into a superstar physically. The second grouping (average tools) are guys who may have one elite tool (great speed or great power or excellent defense) but his other tools are simply average or a tick below. The final grouping (below average) consists of the guys who have no elite tools, who have to get by with, say, a mediocre fastball, an unreliable breaking ball, or no secondary skills at the plate outside of contact. An example of the elite grouping would be Domonic Brown, who projects for both average and power, and has 25/25 potential in the big leagues. Antonio Bastardo profiles in the second grouping (average tools), because he has an excellent fastball, but his secondary offerings rate as just average or a tick below, and he’s had durability issues, which lead to an uncertainty about his role going forward. Joe Savery is a good example of the third grouping (below average tools), as none of his pitches rates as above average, and only his changeup rates as MLB average. His fastball and breaking ball, as well as his control and command, all rate as below average at this stage.
Once I have players separated into these groups (most of it is all stored in my mental database), I then begin to shift a few players around, re-examine their numbers, and look to see if there is anything I’m missing from their profile that would lead me to upgrade or downgrade them. After that, I put everyone onto a list, and then make minor adjustments up or down. Once the season starts, I move guys around mentally based on how they perform, and I note why I liked/disliked the player before the season, and if he’s done anything to change/confirm my beliefs about him as the season progresses. That’s it really. I put a lot of time into the process, because I enjoy doing it, but I don’t consider my opinion any more worthy/valid than anyone else’s. My opinion is what it is, I try and explain my rationale for the various rankings/opinions I have, and you’re free to agree or disagree with me. When I’m making a list like this, my thought is “what ranking will this guy have at this time next year?”, which is how I try to think about the lists.
The format for this year’s list is as follows. I’ll give the player’s basic bio line, then his career statistics in chart form. “2009 Rank” is where I ranked the player in 2009. N/A means the player was not in the organization, UR means I didn’t rank him in the Top 30. The files are images, they should display perfectly, but if not I’ll include a link to click on to display the image in another tab/window, which will be the (click here) under the player’s name.
Green Lights = The positive things in the player’s profile/performance/scouting reports. I’ll use this area to highlight his biggest strengths
Red Flags = Here I’ll talk about the areas where the prospect needs work, or things that I see in his profile that lead me to downgrade him.
Risk = How risky the prospect is, in the context of all prospects. I’m scoring on the 1 to 5 scale, 1 being the least risky, 5 being the most risky, and a 3 being average risk. This should help classify guys as high probability and low probability based on their present tools and how far they have to go to make it.
2010 Destination = Just what it says. My guess on the player’s timeline in 2010, including starting affiliate/level
Philadelphia ETA = Just what it says. My estimation of when the player will arrive with the big league club, and when he’s likely to stick at the big league level.
Final Comments = Anything else I have to add on the player, or just a tidy summary.
Video = Obviously video clips of the prospect being discussed. I’ll link them at the end to make it easier to read/get through. You may want to right click them and open in a new window/tab so you don’t have to click back, not sure how your browser of choice handles links you click on. I chose not to embed the videos to reduce how long it takes to load the page. I’ve tracked down video for most players, but a few won’t have any. If you have videos of any prospects online, please email me. Thanks.
So, should we get started?
1. Domonic Brown, OF
(click here if the image below does not display properly)
Green Lights: Brown’s power has begun to emerge, as he posted his highest ISO (.205) of his pro career by a wide margin, and he also stole 23 bases, also a career high, while also posting his highest batting average as a pro, with a .299 mark.
Red Flags: Brown’s biggest issue according to most scouts is his outfield defense. Poor route running is the main culprit, as his throwing arm is above average. He should improve defensively as he continues to get more reps. While his BB rate dipped slightly and his K rate went up, the big spike in power outweighs both of those factors in my eyes, as I think the organization tried to get him to focus more on power at the plate this year. If they persist going forward, they will be pauses for concern, but at this point, I consider them near non-issues.
Risk: 2 – Brown’s current approach should make him at least an average big league outfielder, capable of hitting .275/.360/.460. While an .820 OPS isn’t star level, its certainly adequate. Some scouts see more power, and if it comes, Brown has star potential offensively. Its hard to see him fizzling out and not contributing at this point, and thus, I don’t consider him very risk in the context of all prospects, its just a matter of his ultimate upside.
2010 Destination: AA seems likely, as he logged just 162 PA there last season. He could see a late season promotion to AAA if all goes well.
Philadelphia ETA: Late 2011. Brown is entering his 5th pro season and will need to be placed on the 40 man roster after 2010. The Phillies current outfield is full, with Raul Ibanez signed through 2011, Shane Victorino controlled through 2012, and Jayson Werth on board for 2010. There has been much speculation that Brown could replace Werth in 2011, but Werth represents the Phillies only righthanded power bat, and I don’t think the situation is that easy. If Werth is retained beyond 2010, there is no immediate opening for Brown. 2010 represents his age 22 season, he turns 23 next September, so even if he spends all of 2010 and 2011 in the minors, he’ll be 24 on Opening Day 2012, which would fall in line with the Phillies recent track record of keeping their prospects in the minors until they are ready to step into every day jobs.
Final Comments: Brown is the clear top prospect in the system, and has the potential to be the Phillies most productive home grown all around outfielder since….well, I don’t know who. All five of his raw tools are at least average, his power is emerging, and he has a good idea at the plate. If he can improve his route running in the outfield, he’s going to be a special talent in the middle of the Phillies lineup for the next decade.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video
AA: 2009-08-11 v Trenton Thunder
AZFL: 2009-11-xx v Blue Jays Prospect Reider Gonzalez
AZFL: 2009-11-xx v Indians prospect Josh Judy
AZFL: 2009-xx-xx Various PA’s, date unknown
AZFL: 2009-11-07 Double in the All Star Showcase Game
2. Tyson Gillies, OF
Green Lights: Gillies is one of the fastest players in the minors, and though he “only” stole 44 bases in 2009, he has the raw speed to steal 50 a year in the majors, especially with the instruction of one Davey Lopes, one of the best base coaches in baseball. At the plate, he’s shown a nice approach, with BB rates above 10% the last 2 years, and improved contact in 2009, reducing his K’s by 5% while also adding a bit of power. His impressive speed helps him in the field, where his defensive tools are considered above average.
Red Flags: Though he saw an uptick in ISO, most are attributing that to playing his home games in one of the best hitter’s parks in the minors (High Desert) in the most hitter friendly league in the minors. However, if you take his raw line (.341/.430/.486) and plug it into the equivalency translator at minorleaguesplits, his line would adjust to .292/.373/.418 at A+ Clearwater. A .791 OPS in a pitcher friendly league that stifles power is still an impressive line, especially when you consider the elite speed.
Risk: 2 – I consider Gillies a high probability guy at this point, because his skill set is well established, and more importantly, he possesses excellent baseball intelligence, understanding his strengths and how to get the most out of his game. As long as he maintains a 10% BB rate, as well as solid contact skills, he profiles perfectly as a leadoff hitter in the big leagues. His speed and defense alone would make him an average big leaguer, but if he’s able to hit for average and draw walks, he’s bordering on an elite talent. Some people are questioning whether he’ll hit enough to be an every day outfielder, but I don’t share those same concerns.
2010 Destination: Gillies looks set to start 2010 at AA, and as I mentioned with Brown, there are no immediate openings on the big league team in the outfield. Like Brown, he could see AAA before the end of the year, but there’s no need to rush him.
Philadelphia ETA: Like Brown, his path is a bit clouded, especially with the Phillies recently re-signing Victorino. That doesn’t mean he’s blocked indefinitely, or even the full 3 years of Victorino’s deal, it simply gave the Phillies cost certainty on Victorino. Gillies just turned 21 on Halloween, so the Phillies have no need to rush him.
Final Comments: As I mentioned, I view Gillies as a high probability bet going forward, hence me feeling confident enough to rank him 2nd on this list. He has an excellent approach at the plate, and because he’s only 21, its not out of the question that he could add a bit of muscle or leverage to his swing which might give him a bit more pop. At 6’2/190 he’s not a short, wiry guy, so it could develop. But if the power doesn’t come, he still profiles as a leadoff hitter with above average on base skills and blinding speed who should play a well above average centerfield. While I initially didn’t love Gillies in the deal, after digesting everything, I’m fairly confident that he’s going to be the most valuable piece of the deal long term. For me, he’s our centerfielder of the future.
3. Trevor May, RHP
Green Lights: May has just about the ideal frame for a pitcher, at 6’5/215, which should allow him to remain durable as well as generate solid velocity going forward. His fastball already comfortably sits in the 91-94 range with some life, and he could have even more when he’s done, possibly sitting at 93-94 consistently. He struck out an impressive 11.1/9 in 2009 at Low A, and has allowed only 3 HR in 89 pro innings.
Red Flags: May has had control issues, walking 50 in 89 combined innings the last 2 years. Some of this could simply be him trying to harness his raw stuff. His delivery, while powerful, does have moving parts, which could be impacting his command and control. Though both his changeup and curveball show flashes of being above average, both are still a ways away from being labeled reliable offerings. While he’s missed a ton of bats so far, he hasn’t been a groundball specialist, racking up rates of 37 and 36% the last two seasons.
Risk: 3 – May’s control is a worry, but the rest of his overall package offsets that at this point. At just 19, he missed a healthy number of bats in Low A, and his frame does lend to more projection, which means the possibility of more velocity, and he’s likely going to spend the next few seasons refining his delivery/mechanics. If he doesn’t improve his control, his fastball still should give him a shot to pitch late in games.
2010 Destination: It seems logical that the Phillies would send May to Clearwater. He was kept in extended spring training in 2009 after logging only 12 innings in his 2008 debut, so depending on his spring, he may sit out the first few weeks in order to keep his innings in line. After throwing 77 innings in 2009, a total of 110 or so seems like a nice target to aim for in 2010.
Philadelphia ETA: If he spends 2010 in A+, 2011 in AA, that means he’d be knocking on the door sometime in 2012, unless he does something to either speed up or slow down the timetable.
Final Comments: May possesses a power fastball and an ideal pitcher’s frame, and his ability to miss bats in A ball at 19 to the degree he did is reason for great optimism. He’ll need to gain some control and refine his secondary offerings, but he looks like a #2 starter, maybe a #3 if he doesn’t significantly improve his command. His ability to generate groundballs should improve as he learns the intricacies of pitching, as he throws on a downhill plane. He’s rough around the edges, but there are no mechanical red flags or health issues that concern me, I think its just a matter of him polishing the rough edges and logging innings.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video, pre-2008 Draft
4. Domingo Santana, RF
Green Lights: Santana is a physical specimen, already clocking in at 6’5/200 at the tender age of 17. He showed excellent raw power, not surprising for someone his size, but also a decent feel for the strikezone, drawing 15 walks in his short 139 PA debut in the GCL. Though he’s not a speed guy going forward, he should be at least average there, and his defense appears to be average to above average in right field, though he’s obviously raw in all aspects of the game. Youth is a big advantage for him, as he turned 17 in August, making him basically the equivalent of an incoming high school junior. To flash the raw power he did at 16/17 is extremely impressive.
Red Flags: Santana did his share of swinging and missing in 2009, striking out in 31.7% of his PA’s, though he cut down on the strikeouts a bit over his last 50 or so AB’s. As is the case with any 17 year old, the difference from where he is now to the big leagues is enormous, and a lot can go wrong in that span. He signed for “only” $300K, so he wasn’t highly touted, but it appears the Phillies did their homework on him.
Risk: 5 – Santana is just about as risky as they come, but in the absence of another bona-fide star behind him, I felt it was a risk worth taking. If he’s done growing height-wise but can add 15-20 pounds of muscle, he’s basically a Frank Thomas clone physically, with the athleticism to play rightfield. Or he could still be stuck in Williamsport in 3 years. When we talk about the proverbial lottery ticket prospect, this is the guy.
2010 Destination: The Phillies were cautious with him in 2009, limiting him to 139 PA after signing him in March. Its likely that he’ll begin in extended spring training and then get a shot at the very pitcher friendly New York Penn League in June.
Philadelphia ETA: A long, long time from now.
Final Comments: Santana probably has the most upside in the system, at least from the standpoint of having the single best tool of any prospect in his raw power. Most 16/17 years are in high school, hitting with aluminum bats, off guys who will never log a pro inning in their lifetime. Santana spent it bashing on 18/19/20 year old pitchers. What makes his season even more impressive is that it was his first exposure to pro ball in the US. I haven’t read anything about his grasp of English, or his general intelligence, but he sure looks like he adapted well to his surroundings.
Video: None at this time, sorry.
5. Anthony Gose, CF
Green Lights: A footrace between Gose and Tyson Gillies would probably be one of the more fun things to watch in spring training. Evident in the 76 stolen bases, Gose has elite speed, which he uses both on the bases and in centerfield. His defense is above average now, and should improve as he learns to better position himself and gamble less. While his BB rate isn’t above average, it represents an improvement from his brief 2008 debut. He also cut down his strikeouts, which will be important going forward, as its impossible to steal first base. Though his 79% success rate stealing was excellent, scouts think he might actually get even better, as he stole plenty of bases on raw speed alone, not his technique or read on the pitcher. He played the majority of 2009 at age 18, very young for the SAL.
Red Flags: Gose still has well below average power, evident in the .094 ISO in 2009. He actually showed a bit of pop in June (.167 ISO), but he trailed off over the last month plus of the season, likely due to fatigue from his first full year. While he improved his walk rate, ideally he’d be in the 10% BB rate range going forward. Though he showed flashes, his .323 OB% and .353 Slugging % were both below average for his league, even considering his age.
Risk: 4 – Like Santana, Gose is still extremely raw, and requires plenty of projection. Unlike Tyson Gillies, Gose does not have a refined approach at the plate, so he isn’t getting the most out of his speed, and his defensive game needs refinement, as he’s able to make up for bad reads with his blinding raw speed. He’s going to likely require 1,200 more AB’s in the minors, minimum, before his bat is considered big league ready, which means there is a lot of time for things to break down/go wrong. If he doesn’t improve his walk rate or his raw power, his offensive upside will be somewhat limited, but he’ll still have value.
2010 Destination: Clearwater seems like the logical next step.
Philadelphia ETA: Gose is 3rd in the pecking order right now, behind both Brown and Gillies, and he profiles as a center fielder, same as Gillies. As he’s less refined, his ETA is later than the other two, so where he fits in at the big league level right now isn’t as important.
Final Comments: Based on just statistics, Gose wouldn’t rank in the top 5, but you can’t teach the raw speed he possesses. He’s an excellent athlete, and scouts think he has a chance to develop at least modest power. At 6’1/190, he isn’t a short slap hitter, so developing line drive power will go a long way toward making him a quality #2 or #7 hitter, depending on his plate discipline/contact rates. He’s going to require patience, especially as he heads to a very pitcher friendly league in 2010, but his upside is substantial.
6. Jarred Cosart, RHP
Green Lights: Cosart, like Trevor May and Brody Colvin after him, is the perfect projectable arm, as he has a solid frame (6’3/180) that could add a bit more muscle, but he already has excellent present arm strength, not to mention an extremely quick arm. His fastball already sits at 92, with the chance to comfortably sit in the 93-94 range in the next few years. A two way player in high school noted for his raw power, his athleticism should help him repeat his delivery (which improves command) and field his position well in the future.
Red Flags: Cosart had some minor shoulder issues last season after signing, and didn’t pitch at all in 2008. The Phillies were apparently concerned enough about his shoulder to keep him in extended spring training until the end of July. His secondary offerings are rudimentary at this point.
Risk: 4 – Cosart carries a few risks, notably the shoulder issues. He’s thrown only 24 innings in his first 2 pro seasons, so developmentally he’s a bit behind. He doesn’t turn 20 until May, so its not a concern, but he’ll have to be monitored carefully.
2010 Destination: Because the Phillies have been cautious with him so far, its likely that he’ll be on the “Trevor May Plan”, starting in extended spring training and then making his 2010 debut at Lakewood, probably some time in late May. 75 innings in 2010 is probably a good target for him, and improving his secondary pitches should be his primary focus.
Philadelphia ETA: Realistically, we’re probably looking at 2013. If he finishes 2010 at Lakewood, he’ll likely aim to finish 2011 at Clearwater, and then spend at least 1 full season at AA/AAA. Its possible that he could take off if everything goes right, or he could have a setback that slows his time table down.
Final Comments: Cosart probably has the strongest raw arm of the Three-Headed Monster™, with some scouts indicating that he could get into the 94-95 range consistently when he’s fully matured physically. He carries more risk than May at this point, because he’s already had some minor arm worries and his secondary pitches are a bit behind. His upside is arguably a #1/2 starting pitcher, and if his secondary stuff doesn’t develop, he’s a good closer candidate down the road.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video, pre-2008 draft
7. Brody Colvin, RHP
Green Lights: Colvin was considered a borderline first round talent heading into the 2009 draft, and was praised for his quick arm, great raw arm strength, and projectablity for more down the road. At 6’3/195, he already has a bit more size than Cosart, and though he has some moving parts in his delivery, it shouldn’t be an issue going forward. He has decent feel for a changeup already, despite not needing the pitch much as an amateur, and his curveball projects to be an above average offering.
Red Flags: Colvin threw a whopping 2 innings in his debut, so right now we’re all just dreaming on his potential. His recent arrest could be a red flag, or an isolated incident, and I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions on the incident without more facts/some indication that it will become a pattern, not just an an outlier. His secondary pitches, as is the case with most prep prospects, need work.
Risk: 4 – Colvin, like Cosart, carries the risks associated with being a young pitcher still growing into his frame, and though his off the field incident isn’t anything to be too alarmed about, it goes on his docket just the same.
2010 Destination: Colvin is likely going to remain in extended spring training along with Cosart and could also make his debut at Lakewood, or the team could be a bit more conservative and send him to the NYPL. He’ll be 19 for almost the entire year, so logging 75 innings or so, whether it comes at Lakewood or Williamsport, is his main objective.
Philadelphia ETA: A long time from now.
Final Comments: I liked the Colvin pick a lot at the time, and the Phillies ended up closing the deal, which basically makes him the highest profile 2009 draftee we were able to sign. His ranking in the 40’s by most publications pre-draft was a testament to his ability, but he also may have ranked higher without his strong commitment to LSU. The Phillies did their work on him and got the deal done, so kudos to them. His profile coming into pro ball was higher than both May and Cosart, and he has the all around package to be the best of the three, though he’s further behind the other two on the basis of his recent entry onto the list. None of his individual tools ranks ahead of the other two, but his all around package might in the long run, which means he could rank higher on the list next year. Alex Eisenberg at Baseball Intellect did an interesting analysis of Colvin’s mechanics, and compared him side to side with Justin Verlander prior to his being drafted. While Verlander’s mechanics were a bit more refined, the similarities are there. Check it out (Colvin on the left, Verlander on the right)
Colvin isn’t quite there, but he’s got a chance, as I believe that video taken of Verlander was after his junior year in college. Verlander is a bit bigger, at 6’5/200, but they are similarly built. If the Phillies can make a few minor tweaks to Colvin’s delivery, his potential is sky high.
8. Phillippe Aumont, RHP
Green Lights: Aumont is a physical specimen on the mound standing 6’7. His fastball is a true plus pitch, bordering on plus plus, because while it has excellent velocity (92-95 consistently, touching 97) it also has excellent movement and sink. Despite having almost no experience prior to the draft, he handled himself decently well in his first two pro seasons, even if he was aggressively pushed. He’s generated a solid amount of groundballs and kept his home run rate in check, while also missing more bats in 2009.
Red Flags: Aumont has two moderate red flags, the first being some injury issues. He battled a sore arm in 2008 and as well in 2009, and there were reports a while back that he has a degenerative hip condition, which I haven’t seen confirmed elsewhere. The second red flag is his mechanics. His delivery features a ton of moving parts, and he throws across his body, which helps create natural sink, but which also could be one of the causes of his arm troubles. As Kevin Goldstein pointed out, some guys with less than ideal mechanics never break down, so that has to be hope here. Because his fastball moves so much, he often times struggles commanding the ball within the strike zone. His curveball is inconsistent, and his changeup lags behind the curve.
Risk: 3 – Aumont is probably a bit less risky than the Cosart, Colvin and May trio because his fastball is already an elite offering, combining the pure velocity and the hard sink, though I’m still moderately concerned about his arm issues. The Phillies are going to give him a chance to start, which would give him more value long term, but if he’s forced into relief, he can probably get by throwing 80% fastballs, just because of the nature of the pitch. I debated between a 3 and 4, but because he’s already reached the upper minors and his fastball is a true plus plus pitch, even if he loses some developmental time he’s still going to have a big league career. Hence, a 3 instead of a 4.
2010 Destination: Aumont will begin 2010 at AA Reading along with his former teammates Tyson Gillies and JC Ramirez. The Phillies will give him a chance to start, so he could spend the entire year in AA.
Philadelphia ETA: Because he is transitioning back to the rotation, it seems unlikely that he’ll see Philadelphia this year, unless its in late September as a callup. However, he doesn’t have to be placed on the 40 man roster until after 2011, so even a late callup seems unlikely. If the Phillies decide to move him to the bullpen permanently, his path to the big leagues will speed up considerably.
Final Comments: Aumont was a tough guy for me to rank. I wasn’t a big fan of his after seeing his original scouting video, as there is just something about his delivery that doesn’t look right to me. The Mariners decision to put him in the bullpen last year seemed odd, as it basically meant they’d given up on him as a starter after 1 pro season. Was the move done because they thought his arm was going to give out, and they wanted to maximize their value? Was it made because they felt his secondary pitches weren’t going to develop? I ranked Aumont 8th, behind three other pitching prospects, because I’m not a fan of his mechanics, I worry about future injuries more so than the other three, and because ultimately, if he’s forced into a relief role, his value drops significantly, in my eyes at least, as I generally don’t place a high value on relief pitchers in the minors. If he proves he can handle a starter’s workload in 2010, and he remains healthy for an entire season, I’ll definitely upgrade him next year. Most other publications are touting him as our best pitching prospect, I’m just not sure I agree.
A: 2008-04-20 Warming up in the bullpen
A: 2008-04-20 In Game Action
A+: 2009-04-15 Warming up in bullpen
A+: 2009-04-15 8th inning video
AZFL: 2009-10-xx Warming up on the mound
AZFL: 2009-xx-xx v former A’s prospect Grant Desme
AZFL: 2009-10-xx In Game random inning
WBC: 2009-03-07 Three out pitches to get out of a bases loaded jam
XXXX: Interview for Rookie Program, January 2010
9. Jon Singleton, 1B
Green Lights: Singleton’s brief pro debut was excellent, as he posted an impressive 15.1% BB rate and an even more impressive 10.9% K rate, showing excellent bat control despite being just 17 and right out of high school. His .150 ISO isn’t outstanding for a 1B prospect, but in a limited sample, its just fine considering his advanced approach at the plate. At 6’2/215, he may not have a ton of projection left, but because he is still young (even by 2009 draftee standards), he could still grow an inch or two and add a bit more muscle. He’s athletic for a corner infielder, though the outfield probably isn’t feasible, and with the sheer number of outfield prospects in the system, him remaining at 1B may actually be better.
Red Flags: As I mentioned above, he didn’t show a ton of raw power, but he handled himself well in a pitcher friendly league in his debut. A 119 PA sample isn’t ideal, so we have to see how he handles himself in 2010 before identifying any real weaknesses. Scouts noted that he seemed to be pressing a bit last spring leading up to the draft, and it caused him to swing at a lot of bad pitches. Not developing bad habits against more advanced pitching will be important for him.
Risk: 3 – Singleton’s approach at the plate was outstanding in the GCL, as he worked the count and made a lot of contact, something that scouts questioned in the spring leading up to the draft. He carries the normal risks associated with very young high school draftees, but his approach at the plate and pure raw power offset those concerns for now.
2010 Destination: The Phillies have been burned (somewhat) in aggressively promoting position player prospects to full season ball the year after being drafted in the last few years, so they might choose to keep Singleton in extended spring training and send him to Williamsport. He’ll play the entire 2010 season at age 18, which would make him one of the youngest position players in the SAL should the Phillies send him to a full season affiliate. He’ll still be young even for Williamsport, if they go that route, which seems a touch more likely. A strong spring training could impact his assignment.
Philadelphia ETA: Its a long way away. The Phillies have zero impact 1B prospects in the system, so he’ll determine his own time table.
Final Comments: Though we’re dealing with only 119 PA’s here, its hard to not love the package here. He controlled the strike zone extremely well for a very young prospect, and though his power tool might not be plus plus, he has plenty of room to add power as he moves up the ladder. I tend to believe its much tougher for a guy to learn strike zone discipline than it is to alter a player’s swing path to create more leverage. Singleton is our best corner infield prospect by a wide margin, despite his relative inexperience.
XXXX: High School Scouting Video, courtesy of baseballbeginnings.com
10. Sebastian Valle, C
Green Lights: After struggling with an aggressive promotion to Low A, Valle got back on track at Williamsport, showing good raw power and improved defense, and did it at just age 18. His raw power increased in a meaningful manner from his debut in the GCL in 2008, and he maintained his walk rate with only a marginal increase in strikeouts. Despite struggling at Lakewood, especially in the average department, he posted a higher walk rate (8.9%) there than at Williamsport (4.9%), though he did show more raw power. A .172 ISO is good for a catcher, and the .224 mark in the pitcher friendly NYPL was even more impressive.
Red Flags: While Valle showed better patience at Lakewood even though he wasn’t hitting for average, his walk rate is still lower than you’d like to see, and his K rate rose to 20%, the higher end of what you’d like to see from someone without elite power. Last season, his ability to stay at catcher appeared mixed, but now scouts are more receptive to his ability to stay there, and it appears he’s grown an inch or two and added some weight to his frame in the last two years, as he’s now listed at 6’1/170, whereas before I think he was more 5’11/155. The added weight should help his durability. After throwing out 24% of base stealers in 2008, he regressed a bit to just 18% between SS/A ball. He’s not likely to be an above average defender unless he takes big steps forward in that regard over the next few seasons.
Risk: 4 – I consider Valle, like most catchers, to be quite risky. His calling card right now is his raw power, but his other secondary skills are lagging behind. He’ll need to improve his walk rate a tick or two, and preferably cut down on the strikeouts. I don’t envision his defense ever being plus or elite, and if he can’t stick at the position, I don’t know where he’d go defensively. I suppose maybe 3B or an outfield corner would be an option, but it reduces his value quite a bit. He’ll be 19 to start 2010, so he’s still very young and has time to work on his weaknesses, but catching prospects in general carry a higher risk than any other position.
2010 Destination: He should get another crack at Lakewood, where he’ll again be young for the level. He rebounded strongly after being sent back to Williamsport last year, so that speaks well for his character, and with the added experience, he should fare a bit better this time around.
Philadelphia ETA: Its a long way off. Assuming he moves a level at a time, he’ll be at Lakewood in 2010, Clearwater in 2011, Reading in 2012, and then maybe 2013 is where you could consider him at some point. Catchers are typically the slowest developing prospects because of the intense defensive requirements.
Final Comments: My view on Valle seems to be much lower than the consensus, similar to Aumont. I generally worry a bit more about guys who lack excellent plate discipline, because the pitching isn’t going to get easier the higher you go, and the offspeed pitches get even better. His power is above average, especially for the position, but if he can’t stick at catcher, I’m not sure where he goes. The reports on his defense were better in 2009, despite the poor caught stealing percentage, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for now regarding his defensive home. He’s clearly our best catching prospect going forward.
11. Juan Carlos Ramirez
Green Lights: Ramirez has long been a scouts’ favorite, with a big projectable frame. In the 2008 BA handbook, he was listed at 6’3/175, though some sites now list him at 6’3/225, and this is what is basically meant by “physical projection” when its mentioned elsewhere. That said, he’s definitely gotten a bit bigger, which should help him remain durable and stay in the rotation. He’s always possessed an excellent fastball, sitting anywhere from 91-95, and his secondary pitches have shown flashes. In 2008, he was excellent in the Low A Midwest League, posting a K rate of 8.2/9 to go with a solid 2.8/9 BB rate.
Red Flags: Unfortunately for him, Seattle’s A+ affiliate happens to be one of the biggest launching pads in baseball, and it wiped his 2009 off the mat. He saw all of his peripherals dip, as well as a significant increase in his home rate. His groundball rate, which was solid in 2008 (48%), also dipped, not a good recipe when your home park feels like a little league field. Despite his across the board struggles, he managed to log a career high 142 IP and remain healthy the entire year.
Risk: 2 – Ramirez has remained healthy during his young career and he’s steadily been increasing his innings total. At just 21, he still has time to get back on track and refine his arsenal of pitches. His delivery is fairly simple and straight forward, which should help. He profiles as a solid #2/3 starter if he’s able to improve his secondary offerings considerably, but even if he doesn’t, his fastball alone should give him a great chance of being a reliable 7th/8th inning reliever, and maybe even a closer if things come together. Because of his clean bill of health, simple mechanics, and quality fastball, I’m not worried about him flaming out, hence the less than average risk rating.
2010 Destination: Ramirez will start in AA along with Tyson Gillies and Phillippe Aumont. He’ll stay in the rotation to continue working on his secondary offerings, and will pitch almost all of 2010 at age 21, so he’ll be young for AA. Pitching in a more neutral environment (though Reading is a hitter friendly park) should help him get back on track.
Philadelphia ETA: If he remains in the rotation, 2012 looks likely, maybe the end of 2011. If the Phillies deem him more of a reliever after 2010, then he should be in the bullpen sometime in 2011.
Final Comments: I’ve been on the Ramirez bandwagon since his 2007 breakout in the Northwest League, and I like him a lot as a prospect, as I mentioned when the Lee deal was made. That said, 2009 did put a damper on his prospect status, even if he did pitch in an unfair home park. His road peripherals were poor, so it wasnt just his home park inflating his line, though the overall experience probably weighed on him as a whole. He showed a noticeable platoon split in 2009, and an even more pronounced split in 2008, and if his changeup doesn’t develop, he’s going to need a pitch to keep lefties honest. There’s a lot to like in his profile, but at the same time, I need to see him get back on track in 2010 before I rank him above any of the guys in the Three-Headed Monster. I maybe could have slotted him ahead of Aumont, but Aumont is actually 6 months younger, and his fastball is a bit better overall, so I felt ok with putting him here on my list. Initially (right after the trade) I had him ranked much higher, but having done the research, I felt I had to downgrade him based on his overall 2009 performance, even considering the park. My hope is that he can make some progress with his changeup in 2009 and maybe go to a more traditional power curveball instead of his slurvy slider. He has work to do, but his upside is considerable should it all come together.
12. Antonio Bastardo, LHP
Green Lights: Bastardo had his best season as a pro in 2009, posting his best DICE number while maintaining a solid K rate, greatly reducing his walk totals, and keeping the ball in the park at an excellent rate. He made it to the bigs in June, pitching two quality games against San Diego and LA before getting knocked around during Interleague play, and then ending the season on the DL. He features a plus fastball, sitting between 91-92 consistently and hitting 95 at times. His changeup is his best secondary offering, though he relied mainly on his fastball at the big league level. He’s faced 273 LHB in his minor league career, and they’ve hit just .169 off of him, with only 2 home runs, and he’s racked up 91 K and only 23 BB.
Red Flags: Bastardo’s biggest issue has been staying on the field. Adding his major and minor league innings in 2009, he threw only 77 innings total, after throwing just 97 and 96 in 2008 and 2007 respectively. He’s had issues with his labrum and other structural shoulder/arm issues, which is never a good sign. While he has a good changeup, he didn’t trust it in the majors, relying heavily on his fastball, which ended up getting him in trouble against better hitters. His fastball control is good, but his command was spotty at times, which may have been caused by him overthrowing. His slider/curve remains below average,
Risk: 3 – Bastardo’s profile, when he’s on the mound, is fairly classic. He’s a lefty with good velocity, a tick above average changeup, and a tick below average slider. If he doesn’t improve any of his offerings going forward, he’s a legit #4 starter, or more likely, a very good setup man. His risk level is elevated because of his injuries, which at this point appear to be a major issue, hence me rating him 12th behind more raw guys with less experience. If he hadn’t been dogged by injuries, he would have been a 2.
2010 Destination: Hopefully pitching and not on the trainer’s/surgeon’s table. His single biggest issue is durability. The Phillies have a bunch of options for the 5th spot, he could be one of them, or he could win a job in the bullpen, theoretically, if he has a monster spring. The more likely result is him starting at AAA, logging innings, and trying to tighten up his slider.
Philadelphia ETA: He’s already reached the summit, but he’s not quite there to stay. He’s already on the 40 man roster (obviously), and he’s only been optioned once, so he has two option years remaining.
Final Comments: Bastardo’s 2009 is frustrating, because when he was healthy, he showed plenty of reason for excitement, but his season ended in predictable fashion, and I’m very concerned about the structure of his arm at this point. His velocity is excellent for a lefty, and I really believe he could be a viable starter, and at worst, a very good setup man similar to JC Romero. But he has to stay healthy first. If he is a reliever for sure, I could have ranked him a few spots lower, sticking with my general principles on ranking relievers, but he’s had some success at the big league level, and his fastball is plus, so I have no problem putting him here.
13. Jiwan James, CF
Green Lights: James is considered by some scouts to be the best raw athlete in the system, which is saying something considering the number of ridiculously athletic players to choose from. After essentially two lost seasons spent on the mound/injured, he emerged as a legitimate centerfield prospect, posting a good line in the NYPL for someone who hasn’t hit full time in pro ball. He showed decent patience (8.2% BB rate) and good contact skills (16.4%) for someone who hasn’t hit since high school. He also swiped 7 bases in 11 attempts, and his defensive tools rate as above average.
Red Flags: James missed all of 2008 due to injury, and he spent his time in his 2007 debut on the mound, though very briefly. Now that he’s committed to hitting full time, he’s basically starting over, and as such, is very raw and very far away. He didn’t show much raw power, and his base stealing technique is raw. Saying all of that, he doesn’t 21 until April, and 2009 was essentially his debut season, so not too bad.
Risk: 5 – As a conversion project, he has a long way to go, and is basically a boom or bust guy. He’s a physical specimen, and though he did show some feel for hitting in his limited 2009 sample, he has a lot of learning to do and adjustments to make. You can dream on him being a 30/30 guy in the majors, and just as easily envision him never making it past A ball.
2010 Destination: Because he is raw, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was held back in extended spring training and then sent to Lakewood. He turns 21 in April, and he’s making up for lost developmental time.
Philadelphia ETA: Its a lonnnnnnnng time from now. The one downside for James is that he is entering his 4th pro season, and will need to go on the 40 man after 2011. With his considerable upside and potential, it won’t be a huge drain, but essentially losing his first two seasons is a bummer.
Final Comments: Guys like Jiwan James is what makes evaluating prospects so difficult. He was a complete afterthought last winter, having missed all of 2008 because of injuries, and he wasn’t even really someone people were thinking about. But scouts loved his raw package of tools in 2009, and he is a true 5 tool talent. Like most guys with a similar profile, he is a long way away, and a lot can go wrong between now and then. But guys like this are great to have around, because if just one of them turns into a star, it pays for the entire draft class and then some. I could have ranked him lower, since hes still largely an unknown quantity, but in the absence of a better prospect who blends together tremendous upside with a longer track record, I felt he was a great gamble here. He’s one of the more intriguing guys to watch in 2010.
14. Freddy Galvis, SS
Green Lights: Galvis is one of the best defensive prospects in baseball, and he does it at one of the most important positions. Scouts could probably talk for hours about his excellent range, hands, and throwing arm. The importance placed on defense has gained more momentum across baseball in the last few seasons, and guys with Galvis’ defensive tool set are always likely to get a chance in the big leagues in some capacity. He has also been pushed very aggressively, reaching AA as a 19 year old.
Red Flags: Well, um, his bat? He showed some improvement from 2007 to 2008 in the walk rate and K rate departments, but much of that was undone in 2009. Its tough to know just how much we should discredit his bat, mainly because he’s been facing much more advanced competition at every stage. The Phillies promoted him in 2009, despite his struggles with the bat in Clearwater, so they obviously aren’t as worried as they maybe should be. He’s shown no power, and his walk rate went backwards, but he still has good enough bat control to think he might be able to hit for average down the road. He was horrid against LHP in 2009 (batting righthanded), hitting just .202/.208/.240 in 104 AB. Which is weird, because he was almost the opposite last year, better against LHP and terrible against RHP.
Risk: 4 – If I could split it up, his glove would be a 1, and his bat a 5. So far, he just hasn’t hit much. His combined line for his 3 seasons is just .236/.285/.289. Yet he’s a gold glove defender. Having just turned 20 in November, he’s still got so much time, but maybe its time to slow him down. Instead of splitting the difference I went with a 4, because the hit tool is slightly more important, especially on a championship caliber team, and there are enormous questions about the bat.
2010 Destination: Ideally, he should be in Lakewood, where most 20 year old prospects are age appropriate. Realistically, he’ll start back at AA Reading.
Philadelphia ETA: Its tough to say. Jimmy Rollins isn’t going anywhere for at least 2 more seasons, and it seems probable that the team would try to retain him. Galvis needs a ton of work with the bat, not so much with the glove. He could benefit from another 1,250-1,500 PA’s at AA/AAA
Final Comments: My ranking of Galvis might seem like a stretch, but hear me out. Last year, I generally wasn’t a believer that he’d ever be an average big leaguer, but upon further reflection, I think maybe I just looked at him in the wrong manner. Most prospects lose value because as they climb the minors, they generally move to less demanding defensive positions, which puts more pressure on their bat. Galvis looks locked in at shortstop for the foreseeable future, and has legitimate gold glove potential there. His bat is terrible right now. There were rumors that he was considering giving up switch hitting. Maybe he should, maybe he shouldn’t. But when you look at his body of work, he’s always been 2 years younger than the average prospect at his level, and even younger when you consider the older filler-type players at each level. When you’re 17, raw with the bat, and facing 22 year old college pitchers, you’re never likely to come out ahead. Because of the advanced nature of his glove, the Phillies have moved him very quickly. As I alluded to above, at age 20, he’d be appropriately placed at Lakewood, playing against players his age. But if he’s going to develop offensively, facing good competition in AA is probably a valuable learning tool. My hope is that he spends the entire year in AA this year, and the entire year there next year as well. Slow him down, let him get comfortable, assess whether he should continue to switch hit, and then just focus on getting him as many AB’s as possible. I still think he could be a .270/.330/.360 hitter in the majors. A .690 OPS is less than ideal, but the offensive demand for shortstops is as low as any position on the field with the exception of catcher. What he loses in value with his bat he could offset with his glove. In a sense, we’ve been spoiled for the last decade having a shortstop who was very good defensively and also one of the best offensive performers at his position. I have a general rule on this site to not compare current prospects to Hall of Famers, so I’m not going to draw any parallels to Ozzie Smith, but I will point to another player who made his living with his glove, Mark Belanger of Orioles fame. Belanger’s career line was a meaty .228/.300/.280. He had no power, a decent eye, and was a decent base runner, but only stole 20 or more once in his career. But he was a defensive whiz, consistently ranking 40-50 runs better than a replacement level shortstop defensively. In his best statistical season, his age 32 campaign, he was basically a 6 win player, nothing to sneeze at, and most of that value came from his glove, as he hit just .270/.336/.326. What I’m trying to say is, Galvis is only 20, and he’s been very aggressively pushed up the ladder. I’m going to give him 2 years at AA/AAA before concluding his bat won’t at least be playable. His glove is the highest ranking tool that any prospect left in the system has, so he goes here for me.
A+: 2009-07-30 RBI Single
15. Justin De Fratus, RHP
Green Lights: De Fratus has performed at every level since going in the 11th round of the 2007 draft. He’s missed a decent amount of bats, posting his best mark (8.3/9) in his full season, and he rarely walks anyone, evident in the 1.3/9. He also does an excellent job of keeping the ball on the ground, rolling up 54.7% groundballs in 2009. He has excellent control and good command, and does an excellent job keeping the ball in the park. When I checked in with Kevin Goldstein back in July, he mentioned that De Fratus’ fastball has excellent life and good velocity, and he obviously uses it well and locates it, keeping it off the fat part of the bat and limiting hard contact against him. When he was moved to the bullpen, he posted even better numbers, including 1.58 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 7.6 to 1 K to BB ratio. At 6’4/215, he certainly has the build required to start games though. As you’ll notice in the video below, he hides the ball well behind the back of his head, which probably contributes to his effectiveness as batters see the ball late.
Red Flags: De Fratus seems to draw very little support in the scouting community, as he didn’t even crack BA’s Top 30 heading into 2009 despite a strong showing in the NYPL in 2008. His secondary pitches lag behind his fastball, and will need to improve against better hitters. Guys with very good fastballs and good command are able to exploit inexperienced hitters, but it gets tougher at the upper levels. If there is one statistical concern, its that he’s struggled against lefties comparatively speaking, with 70 points of batting average difference in 2009, and almost 60 points difference for his 3 seasons. Though he’s been more hittable against lefties, he’s still only allowed 1 HR in 91 innings against them. He’ll need to improve his changeup or develop a splitter or cutter to help neutralize them as he moves up.
Risk: 2 – De Fratus has simple mechanics, a very good fastball, and excellent command/control. The lack of an above average secondary pitch lowers his ceiling to that of a 4/5 starter, but his command and control mean that even if he can’t develop his secondary offerings any further, he’ll have a big league career in the bullpen at worst. Guys who generate lots of groundballs, keep the ball in the park and walk no one generally don’t have a hard time finding employment. If he does tighten the spin on his breaking ball and he can improve his changeup, he has even more upside.
2010 Destination: The Phillies have moved him one level at a time, and Clearwater appears to be next up. He spent some time in the bullpen in 2009, with good results, but finished the season in the rotation, so its uncertain what his 2010 role will be. Because he isn’t MLB ready yet, it would probably benefit him to remain a starter so he can focus on his secondary offerings.
Philadelphia ETA: Hard to say. As a starting pitcher, its probably 2012, but if he’s moved to relief full time, 2011 seems more realistic.
Final Comments: I’ve always been a big De Fratus fan, and I think I generally overcompensate and rank him too low, for fear of appearing blinded by his wonderful peripherals. I ranked him 21st way back in 2007, 19th last year, and now 15th this year. And I could have ranked him 10th and found reasons to justify it in my mind. Guys without an overwhelming scouting portfolio pre-pro ball often times are forced to prove it every step of the way, even moreso than the average prospect. An 11th round pick out of a traditional baseball hotbed state, he just hasn’t generated a ton of buzz, but with a big year in Clearwater, maybe that will change.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video, pre-2007 draft
16. Kyrell Hudson, CF
Green Lights: Hudson was considered one of the best athletes in the 2009 draft, and we all know how much the Phillies love their athletes. He’s already got a nice frame at 6’1/185 and he could add a bit of muscle over the next 2 or 3 seasons. His game is raw, but he has all 5 tools in his arsenal, and he also excelled at football in high school, which netted him a two way college scholarship. His arm is considered his best tool, with some scouts indicating he could even pitch at some point down the road if he doesn’t make it as a hitter.
Red Flags: Hudson’s debut wasn’t great statistically, but it consisted of just 40 rookie level PA’s, so you can almost just throw those out completely. He’s extremely raw across the board, and is likely going to require 2,000+ PA’s in the minors before he’s MLB ready. The biggest knock on him pre-draft was his ability to make contact, which either he’ll improve with reps, or will never improve. Such is the life of a raw 18 year old prospect.
Risk: 5 – He’s just about as risky as they come. His prep track record wasn’t eye opening, he was always an athlete first, baseball player second, which isn’t uncommon for two sport stars in high school. Hudson’s all around package of tools is special though, and if he does develop a better feel for the strikezone and contact at the plate, he could be one of our very best prospects in 2 years. When contact/bat control is your weakest tool, you’re always more risky than the typical raw prospect, but because he has big arm strength, he could be a conversion project down the road.
2010 Destination: Williamsport almost seems like a lock at this point.
Philadelphia ETA: 2014? Who knows, its a long way away.
Final Comments: Ranking at Hudson at 16 is probably going to draw a considerable amount of commentary, but I’m going out on a limb here for a few reasons. When you get past the first 10 or 11 guys, you’re dealing with either prospects who have limited ceilings (middle relievers, #5 starters, utility infielders, 4th outfielders) or guys who are so far away, and so raw, that they have massive attrition rates. I’d rather stick my neck out on the pure gamble guy, because his potential upside far outweighs the risk of him becoming a zero. I was harsh on Hudson around draft time, and his debut didn’t blow the doors off the place, but with guys like him (and Jiwan James, and Gose, and others), sometimes the improvement is drastic, and sometimes it takes more time. I’m always a bit hesitant to overrate guys without a solid hit tool, but now that he’s focused purely on baseball and not worried about football any longer, he may see improvements here. Its probably not going to happen overnight, the improvements will have to be gradual, but he’s well down on the depth chart among OF prospects, and the Phillies outfield is already crowded, so he has all the time he needs to develop his skills. Keith Law had Hudson ranked 93rd in the country prior to the 2009 draft, talking about his immense package of tools, but his rawness. I’m willing to gamble on him here.
17. Michael Schwimer, RHP
Green Lights: Schwimer just gets it done on the field, posting an excellent 12.5 K/9 rate in 2009 across A+/AA, while also posting a solid 2.9 BB/9 and allowing only 2 HR in 64 IP in 2009, and zero HR in his 2008 debut. Though his groundball rate dipped in 2009, this was expected facing better competition. His towering presence on the mound helps him create deception (which he’s talked about here) and he understands the art of attacking a hitter’s weakness. His fastball has good life and his slider is a swing and miss pitch, with his changeup being a good third offering to keep lefties honest.
Red Flags: His fastball doesn’t have elite velocity for a reliever, sitting 91-93, but it plays up because of his movement. His changeup (which he mentioned he worked on a bit in Arizona) will be an important pitch for him against lefties in the majors. Though lefties have hit him better, the split for his 2 year career isn’t too out of line (.236 OppAv compared to .206 for RHB). Because he isn’t a flame thrower, he’ll have to continue to prove it at every level.
Risk: 2 – Schwimer is one of the safest bets on this list to have some kind of major league career. He has a durable frame, he throws strikes, and he keeps the ball in the park. That’s basically what you ask for in a middle/late inning reliever. Because he doesn’t throw 95-96, scouts won’t project him as a future closer, but guys with much less stuff have successfully closed games before, so I’d still say he’s got a shot to get there if things fall right.
2010 Destination: He’s likely heading back to AA, with a promotion to AAA by season’s end likely in the cards.
Philadelphia ETA: If all goes well in 2010, he should be in line to make his debut sometime in 2011.
Final Comments: Its tough not to root for a guy who takes the time to discuss the sport he loves with us common folk. But when you look at his skill set, he profiles well as a late inning reliever. I hate getting into “he can close, he can’t close” arguments, and whether a guy is a 7th or 8th inning reliever isn’t really important, its just the skill set that matters, and the role will be determined later. From his writings here, we can tell that he has a good understanding of how to set up hitters, and his fastball and slider are both slightly above average offerings, so there’s no reason he can’t be a late inning reliever. Improving his changeup to the point where he can comfortably use it in any situation against a LHB will determine just how high his upside is. MLB teams so often overpay for relievers, who’s performance fluctuates more on a year to year basis than any other position on the field. Its nice when your farm system can produce young, cheap options for that part of the team, and Schwimer looks the best of the bunch to me, based on his frame, his feel for pitching, and his ability to miss bats and keep the ball in the park.
18. Jonathan Villar, SS
Green Lights: Villar’s biggest asset is that he’s a middle infielder, something the Phillies have in very short supply, and he posted nice numbers in his US debut. He posted a solid .736 OPS in the GCL before a late promotion to Williamsport. In the GCL, he showed excellent patience, with an 11.7% BB rate in just 111 PA. He also showed his excellent speed, stealing a total of 17 bases in just 19 attempts. At 6’1/180, he isn’t just a small slap hitter, so he could develop some power down the line.
Red Flags: Villar doesn’t have much present power, posting just a .090 ISO between the two levels. He also did his share of swinging and missing, striking out in 24.5% of his PA’s. But, he was just 18 and this was his first taste of pro ball in the US, so there will be some adjustment.
Risk: 4 – He’s very young, and he’s a long way from the majors, so there is the usual risk involved here. His patience at the plate was a plus, the K rate was a negative, but the sample size wasn’t large, so we need another season of data before making any strong conclusions.
2010 Destination: He could be held in extended spring training and get a crack at Williamsport in 2010, which seems like the best course of action. He doesn’t turn 19 until May, so he’s still quite young.
Philadelphia ETA: You have to squint to see it, its way out there in the distance.
Final Comments: Villar’s debut was impressive for me, as he showed similar skills to what he did in the Dominican Summer League last year, but to put up a similar line in the much tougher GCL is a positive sign. He has some feel at the plate, but is obviously still quite raw. He has the frame to develop at least some power down the road, though he’s not likely to be a big power hitter. His game seems more built on speed, which would be welcomed as well. I don’t have concrete info on his defensive chops, but according to minorleaguesplits’ total zone data, he was decent on defense in his brief 2009 stint. So I’m optimistic there. Up the middle prospects (C, 2B, SS, CF) are always at a premium, and with only Freddy Galvis to get excited about, Villar suddenly looks pretty intriguing. He’s obviously not the defensive whiz that Galvis is, but his bat already looks more advanced. If he is in Williamsport in 2010, we won’t have a complete picture on what kind of player he is, but a solid showing should at least confirm this spot in the Top 30 for him heading into next winter.
Video: None at this time, sorry
19. Leandro Castro, OF
Green Lights: Castro has an interesting combination of power and speed, ending up with an ISO of .167 and and 20 stolen bases in 30 attempts. While his walk rate wasn’t great, he more than doubled it from his 2008 debut in the GCL. As Kevin Goldstein commented back in August, he has legitimate tools and should be able to stay in CF.
Red Flags: Though his walk rate improved, Castro still has a crude approach at the plate, as he walked just 5% of the time and struck out over 18% of his PA’s. He has solid physical tools, but at 5’11/175, he probably doesn’t have a ton of projection left physically. He may be able to add a bit of power, but it could cost him some of his raw speed. As KG noted in August, he tends to play a bit out of control at times, but that is a product of youth and should improve with more reps.
Risk: 4 – Castro is somewhat risky because he doesn’t have much physical projection left, and his skill set currently works best in centerfield, so if he has to move to a corner defensively, it will hurt his value. He hasn’t played a full season yet, which will tell us more about him going forward.
2010 Destination: He should be a full time outfielder at Lakewood this year, and doesn’t turn 21 until June, so he won’t be too terribly old for the league.
Philadelphia ETA: At least 3 years away, maybe more.
Final Comments: Castro kind of popped onto the radar this year after a very modest debut last year in the GCL. His power/speed combo is interesting, but he needs to improve his contact a tad and prove that he can remain in centerfield defensively. He spent time at all 3 outfield spots in 2009, and Lakewood’s outfield plans are a bit unclear at this point, so I’m not sure where he’ll play. A full season of data from Lakewood will tell us a lot about him going forward, but he’s a nice sleeper guy to keep an eye on.
SS: 2009-06-19 Base hit to LF. Scroll to 1:59
20. Kelly Dugan, OF
Green Lights: Dugan is a switch hitter with above average raw power from both sides of the plate, and he possesses good athleticism. Upon being drafted, it was thought he’d be a 1B, but he started his pro career in CF, which obviously jumps him up the defensive spectrum quite a bit.
Red Flags: The returns weren’t exceptional in his debut, as he hit just .233/.297/.300 in 167 PA in the GCL. But like Kyrell Hudson, that doesn’t mean we should be writing him off, forgetting about him, or in my opinion, leaving him off a top 30 prospects list. He has the tools, he’s just rough around the edges, which really groups him with many of the prospects in the system.
Risk: 5 – Obviously Dugan is quite a risky prospect, but like I mentioned with Kyrell Hudson, at this point on the list, I’m going to lean toward high upside guys who carry more risk but a substantially higher ceiling. According to a brief note from Baseball America in their Draft Report cards, which are written in September, Dugan does have legitimate raw power from both sides, but he was expected to attend college, hence the rawness. I debated between a 4 and 5, but I’m going with a 5 because of the uncertainty over his defensive position, 1B gives him much less room for error.
2010 Destination: Williamsport seems like a good bet, unless he has an excellent spring training and the Phillies feel he can handle Lakewood. He may start in extended spring training regardless.
Philadelphia ETA: He probably won’t even see a full season affiliate until 2011, so its a ways away
Final Comments: The Phillies like Dugan, and though he is raw, his baseball instincts seem a bit more refined than the typical raw athlete the Phillies draft, as he can already switch hit, and he already has good power. He’s still a project, obviously, and because of that he’s going to take time to develop. The Phillies have a ton of high ceiling outfielders, so he’s well down the pecking order, but his raw tools are excellent, and with a big 2010, he could be a top 10 prospect. At 6’3/195, he’s got a solid frame and should add more power, which also might shift him back to an infield corner, or possibly an outfield corner. Nevertheless, I’m gonna stick with him here.
21. Quintin Berry, CF
Green Lights: At this point, Quintin Berry is an easy riddle to solve. He has great speed (48 SB in 2009, 173 SB in his 3.5 seasons) and steals bases bases at a solid clip, while also drawing his share of walks, posting a 10.5% BB rate in 2009, and a rate over 10% in each of his 4 pro seasons. He plays a capable centerfield, but would be even better served in a corner.
Red Flags: As much as we know Berry’s strengths, his weaknesses are also set in stone, as he has zero power, and at 25 now, he has no projection left. Though his walk rate is solid, he does swing and miss a lot for a guy without any power. At 25, he’s on the fringes of prospect status, but his elite speed keeps him on the list.
Risk: 1 – Berry is essentially a no risk prospect. His game is built on his speed and drawing walks. He has no power, no projection left, and he basically is a finished product. Where he is best utilized with the current team is probably as a 5th outfielder/defensive replacement, though he’d definitely make a nice cheap starter for a 2nd division team.
2010 Destination: The Phillies have Ross Gload and Greg Dobbs on guaranteed deals, and one of them is likely to serve as the 5th outfielder, with both also being able to play 1B, and Dobbs able to play 3B. That likely leaves Berry out in the cold, at least for now. He’ll start in AAA, and if someone gets injured, he could see time in the majors this year.
Philadelphia ETA: It should be this year, September at the latest.
Final Comments: I wasn’t as big on Berry last winter, mainly because he’d put up his numbers in the lower minors, and he was always 2 years too old for his level. His 2009 performance at AA was solid, and that he maintained his walk rate while making the jump was important for me. His bat is never going to be a plus, he’s an 8 hole hitter in the bigs, and he doesn’t have a path to everyday playing time here, but he could definitely serve as a great cheap 5th outfielder, and definitely a quality September callup. While he’s cheap, he’ll be an asset to the Phillies, but with all of the outfielders in the system, he’ll probably need to go elsewhere to get a shot at playing every day. With his speed, someone might want to take that chance on him if they can. I chose to put him on this list because I think he can be a positive value player for the Phillies this year, and he does have the one elite tool, as well as one average/slightly above average tool in his plate discipline.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video
22. Matt Way, LHP
Green Lights: As a polished college pitcher, Way carved up both Williamsport and Lakewood in his debut, posting a 10.2/9 K rate and an excellent 1.4/9 BB rate while allowing only 2 HR in 75 IP. He also induced 46% groundballs, a decent ratio. His fastball is average at best, but his changeup is an above average pitch, and his command/control both rate as above average.
Red Flags: Having turned 23 last month, there is very little left in the way of projection for Way. Get it? Way…for Way. AnyWAY, his fastball is kind of short, but because he is lefthanded, he may be able to get away with it, as lots of crafty lefties do. Also like many changeup artists, he struggles more against same side batters, as lefties hit .283 off of him, compared to .211 for righties. He’ll need to sharpen his slider/curve/breaking ball to have a decent weapon, or at least a show me offering, to get lefties out.
Risk: 2 – Way is what he is, and that’s a strike throwing lefty with average raw stuff. Because he has excellent command and control, its easy to see him having a future in the big leagues, but it will likely be in the form of a middle reliever, not a starter. Then again, he can look to Reds prospect Travis Wood, who was all but written off before he developed a cut fastball, which helped him against both lefties and righties. Way will pitch in the majors (barring injuries), and if he can tighten his secondary offerings, he might even make it as a good #5 starter.
2010 Destination: At 23, he should probably take the Stutes/Worley path and go straight to Reading. With his excellent command, he should carve up the Florida State League, a notorious pitcher’s league, so we won’t learn much of anything about him there.
Philadelphia ETA: Maybe late 2011, depending on how things shake out. If he’s moved to the bullpen, he could get there out of spring training in 2011, if not, likely later in the year or possibly in 2012.
Final Comments: If Way was righthanded, it would be easy to write him off as just minor league filler, but because he is left-handed he’s going to get tons of chances. We won’t know much about his chances until he reaches AA, which hopefully is at the start of the season, or by June at the latest. If he can keep the ball down, on the edges of the zone, and he can sharpen his breaking ball to make it at least a tick below average, I think he’s a quality #5 starter in the big leagues. Even if he can’t, he should be a viable middle reliever, and soon, which has value. If I’m the Phillies instructors, I’m helping him learn a cutter, or work on a better grip for his breaking ball, and telling him to focus on that entirely in 2010.
23. Yohan Flande, LHP
Green Lights: Flande has really come out of nowhere, as he pitched briefly in the GCL as a 22 year old in 2008, then jumped to A+ in 2009 before reaching AA by the end of the year. He showed good control, walking just 2.7/9, and did an even better job of keeping the ball down, with a 52% GB rate and only 7 HR allowed in 152 IP. His stuff is average, but his delivery creates some deception, and lefties hit just .240 off of him in 2009, and .232 overall for his first 2 seasons.
Red Flags: His emergence in 2009 came out of nowhere, so you instantly have to be somewhat suspicious. Most solid prospects signed in Latin America come to the US between the ages of 16 and 18/19, so for him to break in at 22 and then break out at 23 is rare. None of his pitches rate as plus, his slider has decent depth, but isn’t consistent, and his fastball velocity is just about average. Despite solid command and good groundball numbers, he hasn’t missed a ton of bats, striking out only 6.9/9 in 2009 despite being 2 years too old for Clearwater, and a year too old for Reading.
Risk: 3 – Flande has some risk because his breakout came out of nowhere, but also because he doesn’t have one plus offering, or plus command. Having just turned 24, he doesn’t have much projection remaining either. Kevin Goldstein hinted that he might be a decent LOOGY going forward, and I suppose relief is probably his most likely role. His groundball rate is the one big thing I like right now, and it could better suit him as a starter, as he doesn’t have swing and miss stuff as a whole. He was a borderline 4, but he should make it as at least a situational lefty, so I went with a 3.
2010 Destination: He will likely be in the Reading rotation, and could see AAA before the end of the season
Philadelphia ETA: Sometime in 2011 looks most likely, though I suppose he could see a cameo this season if the Phillies need a spot start.
Final Comments: I’m not really sure what to do with Flande. He’s an interesting guy, just because he was pretty much an obscure filler guy prior to his 2009 breakout. Based on the lack of raw stuff, it seemed odd at the time that he was chosen for the Futures Game, and it might have been more logistics than anything else. If he can continue to keep the ball on the ground and limit his walks, he can stay in the rotation for now. At 24, he’s basically maxed out physically and in terms of projecting future improvement. He’s basically going to be a fringy strike thrower, and he looks like he’ll be better against lefties because of his slider.
24. Scott Mathieson, RHP
Green Lights: Mathieson gets the ultimate green light for his perseverance, as he’s battled major arm injuries for the last 3+ seasons, yet he is still here and now knocking on the door again. In his brief 32 inning stint in 2009, he showed the swing and miss stuff he had before getting hurt, with a 9.5/9 K rate rate, and his control was surprisingly decent, at 3.4 BB/9, as most guys coming back from surgery really struggle with their command and control. He still possesses above average velocity, sitting comfortably at 93-94 and hitting 96. His slider is average, and his changeup has made strides since his latest round of injuries.
Red Flags: Its pretty obvious, no? Aside from the major surgeries, his delivery has always had a bit of effort in it, which can lead to inconsistent command. His HR rate has always jumped all over the map, but his GB rates are just average, maybe a tick or two below, so it will be something he has to watch.
Risk: 97 – Basically the highest risk you can have, and the reason I can’t get myself to rank him higher. You can probably count on two hands the number of pitchers who have come back to have successful big league careers after 3 major arm surgeries. His arm is essentially a ticking time bomb (all pitchers are, to a degree), but his clock is probably ticking faster than anyone else. I haven’t seen him in person since the injury, but if he still has some violence in his delivery, there’s nothing to indicate he won’t get hurt again. The Phillies were careful with him in 2009, rightly so, but as he turns 26 this week, the time is now.
2010 Destination: Its probably going to be AAA to begin the season, with the Phillies again monitoring his workload carefully. If he remains healthy, he should be the first callup if a need arises for a middle reliever.
Philadelphia ETA: He’s already reached the bigs, logging 37 innings in 2006, and thus will likely exhaust his rookie eligibility this year.
Final Comments: Its a tough one to judge, obviously. The next few guys on the list are going to be relievers, and Mathieson is the highest up on the chain, he’s already faced big league hitters with some success, and he still has premium arm strength. If his changeup has really improved, and he can remain healthy, he’s a legit 7th/8th inning reliever. But with his injury record, I couldn’t rank him any higher. The odds are stacked firmly against him having a prolonged big league career, but everyone is obviously rooting for him. He seems to have exceptional makeup, and his determination can’t be questioned. Lets hope he remains healthy in 2010, and if he does, this will probably be the last time for him on this list.
25. Austin Hyatt, RHP
Green Lights: Hyatt had about as good a debut as you can have for a 23 year old coming out of college, posting a 13.6 K/9 rate and a 2.1 BB/9 rate in 59 IP, allowing only 1 HR. He has a good fastball with average to a tick above velocity and his slider is a plus pitch with good late life.
Red Flags: The obvious red flag is his age. As a 23 year old, he was beating up on 17-20 year old prospects with very little pro experience. His fastball is not overpowering and doesn’t have exceptional sink or late life, so he’ll have to mix his pitches well, especially at higher levels. His numbers weren’t quite as good against lefties, who hit 40 points higher than righties and also drew more walks. Improving his changeup will be a must if hes going to be good against batters from both sides. His 31% groundball rate is a definite concern going forward.
Risk: 2 – Hyatt turns 24 in May, and likely has very little projection left in him. His fastball/slider combo will be enough for him to make it to the big leagues, but his ultimate upside is limited unless his changeup takes significant strides forward and he maintains solid command. As a fairly heavy flyabll pitcher (in his debut at least), locating at the bottom of the zone is going to be a must, especially considering Citizens Bank Park’s friendly dimensions/wind patterns.
2010 Destination: He finished up at Lakewood, but should be skipped directly to Reading and used out of the bullpen. Depending on the numbers game at Reading, he might get a shot to stick in the rotation, which would give him more reps to work on his secondary offerings.
Philadelphia ETA: If he’s kept in the bullpen, he should have a chance to reach AAA this season, and then maybe contend for a spot in spring training next year, with his debut coming sometime in 2011. If he stays in the rotation, his timeline might be a bit longer, but he has to move quickly because of his age.
Final Comments: If you’re a regular reader here, you know that I tend to downgrade relief prospects based simply on value. All but the very elite relievers generally are not game changing in terms of value added, and relievers tend to fluctuate more than any other position on the field in terms of year to year performance. Hyatt was already 23 when drafted, he has no projection left, and he’s essentially a 2 pitch guy with just an average fastball. Its tough to get too excited about him, but I think he will provide value for the big league club in his pre-arbitration years, and that’s important when the rest of the team is making a moderate sized fortune. Among the remaining relievers, I like Hyatt’s slider as more of a weapon, so he gets the slight edge.
26. Brian Rosenberg, RHP
Green Lights: After not being tested in his debut, pitching the entire campaign in the NYPL at age 22, Rosenberg started at Lakewood but finished at Reading, posting a solid 10.1 K/9 rate along with an even more impressive 2.1 BB/9 rate and didn’t allow a single HR in 61 IP. While none of his pitches rate as plus, he has good control and command, keeping the ball off the fat part of the bat.
Red Flags: As mentioned above, none of his pitches jumps off the charts, as he has average fastball velocity (maybe a tick above) and average secondary offerings. Lefties have hit a bit better against him, about 30 points of average, and his control hasn’t been quite as good. He doesn’t have much projection left, and he’ll have to continue to prove it at every stop along the way.
Risk: 2 – Like the other relievers ahead of him, he is what he is, a strike thrower who lacks an elite offering or elite velocity, and will have to get by based on his command and control of the zone.
2010 Destination: It could be AA or AAA, and he has been invited to big league camp as an NRI, so his performance this spring will probably dictate where he goes to start.
Philadelphia ETA: Its either late 2010 or 2011. He’s largely a finished product, and just needs innings to further sharpen his command.
Final Comments: I had Hyatt and Rosenberg flipped on the list a number of times, but I went with Hyatt above him just because I like his slider a tick more than any of Rosenberg’s offerings. He did finish the season at AA, which counts in his favor, and his numbers have been impressive, I’m just trying to gauge future value here. They are largely interchangeable on this list, as they are similar pitchers.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video, pre-2008 draft
27. Zach Collier, CF
Green Lights: It’s important to start with the positives on Collier. Prior to the 2008 draft, he was considered a potential mid-late first round pick, and the Phillies were lucky enough to get him in the sandwich round. He had a nice debut, showing a decent approach at the plate and flashing his good raw speed and general athleticism. In 2009, he actually showed more raw power, increasing his ISO from .086 in 2008 to .103, and he stole 20 bases, at a 74% success rate. He remains a very gifted athlete who shows potential in all 5 tools. He should profile as an above average defender in centerfield because of his speed and general athleticism.
Red Flags: Now the bad news….everything else. The Phillies aggressively promoted him to Lakewood and the results weren’t pretty, as he started slow and saw it snowball on him from there on out. He was demoted to Williamsport when the shortseason leagues started, and things didn’t go much better there. All of his peripherals (except his ISO) declined in 2009, and in the words of Kevin Goldstein the other day “he was just a mess”. He appeared a bit more polished when he was drafted, but its obvious now that his swing and approach need major renovations. According to a random facebook update posted on the interweb, he has a hand injury and may need surgery, but I don’t have facebook, and I haven’t verified this, so I’m not making too much of it for now.
Risk: 5 – Collier is one of the riskiest prospects in the system, mainly because he regressed so badly at the plate. The aggressive promotion to Lakewood, as he didn’t turn 19 until September, proved to be too much, just as it did for Sebastian Valle. Unlike Valle, Collier never got back on track. His upside is still considerable, but he is a long way away now.
2010 Destination: He may get another crack at Lakewood, but he’s likely going to remain in extended spring training for at least the first month, maybe longer if he does need surgery.
Philadelphia ETA: We’re talking like 2014 at the earliest.
Final Comments: I can’t drop Collier all the way off my Top 30. He was a supplemental first round pick for a reason, and it wasn’t seen as a reach at the time, in fact, it was looked at as a nice get for the Phillies. He has a lot of adjustments to make, but the ceiling remains very high, just with a much lower probability right now. Because he is a good defensive center fielder, I like his value a bit more at the present than the next guy on the list.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau video, pre-2008 draft
28. Anthony Hewitt, OF
Green Lights: It should come as no surprise to you, but Hewitt like so many others on this list, is a physical specimen, boasting eye popping raw power, good speed, and a very good arm, all packed into a 6’1/190 pound frame. While he’s struggled in some areas, he made progress in 2009, posting a decent .172 ISO in the pitcher friendly NYPL, while more importantly cutting his K rate from 42.6% in 2008 to 31.2% in 2009. 31% is still a huge number, but its a significant improvement, especially because the power improved. He stole 9 bases, but may have a bit more in him when he gets to a full season league. Having not fared well defensively at 3B, the Phillies are moving him to the outfield in 2010, a switch he should embrace, as he is athletic enough for it, and the lesser defensive demands should help him focus on his approach at the plate.
Red Flags: Though the 31% K rate was actually an improvement on his debut, its still way too high for someone who doesn’t draw walks. In fact, he walked just 3.6% of the time in 2009, down from a substandard 5.4% in 2008. He’ll need to at least double his walk rate, while continuing to show the plus power, and also further cutting down on the strikeouts. I’m not sure if he has the range for center field, but he should have plenty of arm for rightfield, which is where he should play considering the sheer number of centerfield prospects ahead of him in the system. Unlike most high school prospects, he was 19 when drafted, and turns 21 this year having still not gotten out of rookie ball.
Risk: 5 – Hewitt is very very risky, obviously. His contact tool is his weakest tool, and its arguably the most important tool for a hitter. His raw power won’t play if he can’t make contact, and his good speed won’t matter if he can’t get on base. He loses some defensive value moving off 3B to a corner OF spot, but it shouldn’t affect his long term climb up the system, if anything it speeds it up. He’s a huge boom/bust type prospect, and that’s why he’s where he is on the list.
2010 Destination: He should get a crack at Lakewood, and while he’s likely going to struggle, especially adjusting to a new position, the hope is to see moderate improvements across the board in his peripherals.
Philadelphia ETA: Its really far away. He’s going to be a 1 level at a time player unless multiple light bulbs go on in his head at the same time. If he spends 2010 in Lakewood and moves one level at a time, that would put him in Philadelphia some time in 2014.
Final Comments: How do you even rank someone like Hewitt? His potential is as high as almost anyone on this list, yet his chance of complete and utter failure is as high as anyone on the list too. The Phillies have made a habit of drafting guys like this the last few years, and if Hewitt ends up panning out, no one will be complaining. Looking back, I actually could have ranked him as high as #23, as his upside alone would almost justify it, but I still have my reservations. I ranked him one spot behind Collier because he’s older, has even more trouble with contact, and has an overall less refined approach at the plate, despite having more power and comparable speed. I think I’ve almost reached “Acceptance” on the Kubler Ross Model with regard to Hewitt, so I’m actually optimistic at this point on his future as a prospect.
29. Colby Shreve, RHP
Green Lights: Shreve was one of the top JuCo pitchers available in the 2008 draft, and the Phillies were able to sign him for an above slot bonus, even though they knew he needed Tommy John surgery before the draft. Before his injury, he had an excellent fastball, sitting 91-93 with the chance for more, and the pitch featured nice movement. He also had a sharp curveball that functioned as his swing and miss pitch.
Red Flags: Shreve has yet to throw a pro pitch, and its now been almost 2 years since his surgery. While the typical recovery time frame for a pitcher is 12 months, some guys come back in less time, and some guys take longer to make it back. The Phillies invested a big chunk of money in Shreve, so its understandable that they’ve been cautious with him.
Risk: 5 – The guy hasn’t thrown a pitch yet, so he’s obviously very risky, and then you factor in the major arm surgery, which is still a risk even though the success rate is very high. The reports after his surgery were positive, noting the procedure was a success, but obviously he hasn’t bounced back as quick as some other pitchers. Having just turned 22, he’s lost essentially 2 years of development, so he needs to get back on the mound soon.
2010 Destination: Extended spring training, no doubt, and after that its up in the air, though it seems like he could just skip the rookie affiliates and head to Lakewood this summer.
Philadelphia ETA: I’d settle for seeing him in the GCL now. When he gets back to 100% health (if he does) he should move quickly.
Final Comments: I guess my obsession with Shreve probably seems weird at this point, but one of these years he’ll prove me right and make me look extra smart. I just hope he actually pitches this year, or someone informs us he’s retired, or his arm was amputated, or something. Anything. Just give us a story, a lifeline, anything on Colby Shreve. We’re getting close to milk carton status here.
30. Julio Rodriguez, RHP
Green Lights: Rodriguez was an obscure 8th round pick out Puerto Rico in 2008, and though the Phillies have been cautious with him, I see a lot to like. He has a very projectable pitcher’s frame, at 6’4/195 pounds with long arms and legs, and that should help him add a bit of muscle and improve an already average fastball. His secondary offerings are raw, as is his game in general, but he did manage to post excellent K/BB numbers in 2009, striking out 10.2/9 and walking just 2.6/9, both improvements over his brief 2008 debut.
Red Flags: Rodriguez has thrown just 60 innings in 2 years, and is still very young. His success came as he was repeating the GCL, but he was age appropriate, so its not a huge concern. The big issue that jumps off the page is the home run rate, as he allowed 6 in just 49 IP, a 1.1/9 rate, and a big issue. The GCL is a very pitcher friendly environment, and the HR rate coupled with the low GB% is a worry going forward. His curveball was very soft and loopy when he was drafted, something that he’ll have to improve.
Risk: 4 – What I liked about Rodriguez was his very smooth, fast arm action in his pre-draft video, and he’s shown good raw stuff, but he’s not without risk, obviously. He’s miles away from the big leagues, and will need to drastically cut down on the longballs going forward.
2010 Destination: He should get a crack at the NYPL in 2010, where he’ll again be age appropriate for his level.
Philadelphia ETA: 2034. Just want to see if you’re still reading.
Final Comments: When trying to settle on the last guy for the list, I tossed around a bunch of names, but I settled on Rodriguez for a few reasons. One is the quick arm action and long limbs. From the video, it looks like he’s releasing the ball on top of home plate, which adds some deception for him. Admittedly I’m no expert when it comes to pitching mechanics, but when I see a pitcher throw a baseball, my mind says to me either “that looks like it will work” or “that doesn’t really seem to add up”, and I stick with it until proven otherwise. I also picked him for the last spot because he is very young, and he’s shown swing and miss stuff at a young age. He has a long way to go, but I think he obviously has a shot to remain a starter. He has a solid pitcher’s frame, he could add a bit of muscle and velocity over the next 2 years, and if his secondary offerings are even average, he profiles as a #3/4/5 starter. Its obviously way too early to tell, and he could easily flame out, but its the last spot on the list, so I don’t really care, I’m going with a personal favorite.
XXXX: Scouting Bureau Video, pre-2008 draft
The guy that just missed, who I guess you can classify as my sleeper, if you so choose.
Mike Cisco – Cisco struggled to miss bats in 2009, striking out just 5.5 per 9 in 118 innings across A+/AA. He did limit the walks, however, issuing just 24 in those 118 innings (1.82/9) and he did a nice job keeping the ball on the ground, rolling up 50% groundballs. Despite the nice groundball rate, he still allowed 13 HR in the 118 IP, a highish amount. He doesn’t have the one elite pitch you want to see, and at just 5’11/190, he lacks the downhill leverage you like to see for guys without overpowering velocity. Because he profiles as a back of the rotation starter at best, I’d go ahead and convert him to relief now, try and see if you can squeeze a bit more raw velo out of his fasball, and have him focus on refining his slider and changeup in 2010. He’s actually fared much better against LHB in his minor league career, with a .217 OppBA, compared to a .272 mark for RHB, but that could just be noise in the numbers. He has great control, he’s been able to keep the ball on the ground, and he has no projection left, so converting him now and seeing how he takes to it might be for the best for his long term value.
And a bonus super deep sleeper
Nick Hernandez, LHP – Hernandez was a 12th round pick in the June draft, and enjoyed an excellent debut, going 80 IP – 2.72 ERA – 1.15 WHIP – 67 K/20 BB. He didn’t show a significant platoon split, and got a few more strikeouts against lefties, always a nice sign. He didn’t turn 21 until late July, and his profile is very similar to that of Matt Way, though he struggled more in college, hence him sliding down draft boards and to the Phillies. At 6’4/205, he has a nice durable frame, and should be able to last as a starter. The same caveats I applied to Way apply here. He’ll need to focus on refining his breaking ball, and keeping the sharpness of his changeup to combat righties. He hasn’t gotten much publicity, but it was a nice grab by the Phillies, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he put up excellent numbers at Lakewood/Clearwater next year. As you can see in the video, he seems to hide the ball well.
A few other guys that didn’t make the list, that I wanted to touch on briefly.
Vance Worley, RHP – His struggles at Reading might have been just him running out of gas in his first full year, or it could have been something else, but he lacks even one elite pitch, and he feels much more like a middle reliever. He didn’t miss many bats, and while the walk rate was good, he did allow 17 HR in 156 innings, and lefties knocked him around pretty good. Without a swing and miss pitch, or big groundball tendencies, I wonder how he’ll fit in as a reliever. He could still be a #5 starter in the bigs if he bounces back, but his upside is limited (and was limited before 2009), and I was way too aggressive ranking him 11th last year. He actually looks a lot like Drew Carpenter at this point, who I also left off my Top 30. Speaking of DC…
Drew Carpenter, RHP – Yeah, I mean you can read the Worley blurb, and a lot of the knocks will be the same. Carpenter got a brief cup of joe in the bigs last year, but the results weren’t great. He lacks even an average fastball, sitting in the 87-89 range, and its really tough to make it as a starter (or a reliever) with that kind of velo from the right side. He does get some movement on the pitch, but that comes from throwing across his body, which hinders his command. He doesn’t profile as anything more than a swingman, which obviously limits his upside.
Mike Stutes, RHP – Stutes, who jumped straight to Reading with Worley in 2009, struggled a bit and may have been promoted a bit too quickly. His 3.46 BB/9 rate was middle of the road, and he didn’t miss enough bats, just 6.69 K/9 while also allowing 15 HR in 153 IP. Lefties hit him hard, to the tune of a .315 average with 10 HR in 74 IP. He was predominantly a fastball pitcher in college, and it appears his secondary offerings (especially his changeup) are still lagging behind, and he’ll need to find a reliable weapon to keep lefties honest. Like Worley, he looks more like a middle reliever now, and its tough to get too excited about him because his fastball isn’t elite, which doesn’t offset the sub-standard secondary offerings and average control.
Jon Pettibone, RHP – Another guy the Phillies have taken it slow with, he logged only 35 innings in 2009, added to the 1 inning last year, means he is still quite raw. The Phillies obviously liked what they saw, enough to give hm an overslot bonus in 2008, but scouts noted his raw stuff was still kind of soft, and he was still all projection. At 6’5/200, he has an ideal power pitcher’s frame, but he doesn’t appear to have a power arsenal to match at this point. His walk rate was a tad high in the NYPL (3.96/9) and though he missed his share of bats (8.92/9), he wasn’t really dominant. I could have gone with him over Julio Rodriguez, but again, its just a gut feeling. He could jump onto next year’s list with a solid season at Lakewood in 2010.
Joe Savery, LHP – I’ve been Savery’s biggest fan since he was drafted, hoping and praying that he’d recover from his arm injuries at Rice and re-emerge as a potential stud lefthander. So far, it hasn’t worked. After an up and down 2008, more was expected of him in 2009, and he struggled pretty much across the board, walking almost as many as he struck out, and posting just an average to a tick above 45% groundball rate. He did hold lefties to a .235 OppBA, compared to .281 for RHB, but really its a shame that we’re considering our former 1st round pick as a situational lefty. This must be how Pirates fans feel about Daniel Moskos. Anyway, if it were up to me, I’d give him a bat and let him try and hit this year. Maybe have him play 1B the two days after his turn in the rotation or something. Its tough to see him providing much for the big league club in the next few seasons with the combination of walking lots of guys and not striking out many.
Harold Garcia/Jeremy Barnes – I’ll group these two guys together, as they both look like future utility infielders. Garcia has some intriguing speed, but just an approach at the plate, and Barnes is basically a contact guy with a decent glove and decent secondary skills, but nothing that jumps out.
Jesus Sanchez, RHP – Conversion projects are always fun, and Sanchez certainly showed some promise in his full season debut. The most impressive aspect of his season was that he was very durable, logging 136 innings in his first year on the mound. That also scares me, because its not uncommon for position players converted to pitching to blow out their arms from overtaxing themselves and overthrowing. I didn’t get a chance to see him pitch in 2009, but I can imagine he has the short-arm motion that most catchers have, which will add deception, but could also be a source of injury down the road. Because he is a conversion project, he carries a higher risk, and therefore I chose to leave him off my Top 30 and see what he does in 2010. I considered him briefly for the last spot, but just didn’t have the conviction.
Edgar Garcia – Long a favorite of mine, I’ve started to move in the other direction on Garcia, and I think it was somewhat telling that the Phillies didn’t protect him prior to the Rule 5 draft, and another team didn’t take him. His calling card has always been his control, and he walked just 9 in 45 IP in 2010, but he hasn’t been able to consistently miss bats (6.2/9 in 2009) enough to convince me he’s anything more than an up and down swingman. He still handles lefties reasonably well due to his good changeup, but he’s not a big groundball pitcher, and at this point I’m not sure where he figures into the Phillies plans. I could change my mind on him if he has a big season at Reading in 2010, but I’m kind of off the Garcia wagon at this point.
The Phillies have lost a TON of talent from the system in the last 12 months. Yet when I look at this list, I have to marvel at the sheer amount of legitimate prospects on the list, and the list of guys that didn’t make it, but could easily become Top 15-30 guys next year. If you compare the system now to what it was, say, 7 years ago, its amazing how much depth we still have, even after trading away a ton of good prospects, and we still have one blue chip guy who is marginally close to the majors. Had we kept Drabek, Taylor and D’Arnaud, our system would have been considered top 5 in baseball. And while most people have poo-poo’ed the return on Cliff Lee, I’m actually encouraged by the guys we got back. It might not have been the ideal package, we didn’t get a sure thing superstar, but we did get back 3 guys who should be average major leaguers on the bottom side, with a lot more potential. And the guys we traded for Cliff Lee? Only Knapp looks like an impact prospect, and he now has a semi-major arm surgery on his docket. Marson looks like a second division starting catcher, while Donald is a utility guy. Carlos Carrasco is still the enigma he was here, he could still turn into a solid middle of the rotation starter, or he might never make it. But if you compare Aumont, Gillies and JC Ramirez to the four prospects we gave up for Lee, I think we came out ahead on that transaction. Which basically means we sacrificed Drabek, Taylor and D’Arnaud for Halladay. And I think some would have done that in July, and I’m still happy we did it in December. The point of that ramble being, the system is no doubt weaker, as we lost two elite guys and one very good guy in the Halladay deal, but the system hasn’t been wiped out. There are legitimately seven or eight very raw players in the system who have superstar potential. If only 1 of them makes it, it will be a big boost to the major league team. But I’d be shocked if only one from the Gose, Aumont, Colvin, Cosart, Hewitt, Dugan, Hudson, Collier, Santana, Singleton group turns into an above average big leaguer. We have some interesting tweener arms who could help the big league pen this year, we have guys who could fill bench roles in the majors going forward, and we have the potential stars/front of the rotation arms. But its mostly potential, hence the neutral is going to downgrade the system. Just roll with it and don’t get too caught up. We’ll have a better idea where we stand next winter.
I think that’s about it. If there’s anyone not on the list and not mentioned that you’re curious on, I can try to touch on that in the comments. I’ve already updated the Top 30 Page at the top of the site to include an easy to reference chart of my top 30, so check that out. If you made it through this entire thing, give yourself a round of applause. I tried to proofread twice, but I lost my patience about 9,000 words in both times, so if there are misspellings or grammatical errors, well that’s just an unfortunate side effect of the amount of time I spent working on this list.